Kamloops’ newest winter shelter has a new addition tonight, as the Mustard Seed New Life Community's Outreach Centre will open its recently installed shower.
Located in a converted janitor’s closet, the shower will allow for the 15 to 20 people staying there each night as part of their Winter Refuge program a chance to clean up. The program has space for up to 30 beds, but managing director Diane Down says with the unseasonably warm winter, they haven't reached that maximum yet.
However, Mustard Seed's new offering has taken the pressure off of some of the city's other shelters.
"Between the opening in Mission Flats and here, right now Emerald House has an unprecedented 22 beds vacant," says Down. "There's never a vacancy there. So now they can operate like an emergency shelter. This is kind of like transitional housing. What they're hoping is, there will be some modular housing in the parking lot next to Emerald that's slated to open in April and the goal is to get these folks, not kicked out, but supported into that housing."
The B.C. Housing-funded shelter started last November and will wrap up at the end of March. All those who are staying there have gone through a "vulnerability assessment tool," with local organizations like ASK Wellness and Interior Health giving input on who would "do well" in the shelter.
Those who aren't in the shelter program can also access the Outreach Centre 23 hours a day. They can't sleep there but can come in and warm up with a coffee.
As for the new shower, it's free to use but has coin-operated hot water to encourage expediency. It's for shelter guests to use now, but come spring, Down is unsure how things will go.
"We're really happy they funded the shower," she says. "The shower gives dignity. What we're interested to see is once the mat program is over, how we use it during the daytime. Because we only have the one and we're serving 100 people at lunch, so how is that going to work? Not sure yet."